Sunday, August 30, 2020

More Wet Weather and Time to Leave

In our first trip to SE Alaska in 2010, we continued cruising through August and did not depart Alaska until September 4. The next year we planned to cruise through August but after three consecutive storms over about 8 days in the middle of the month, we skedaddled out of Alaska on August 26. Ever since that year, we’ve made it our practice to be south of Dixon Entrance sometime around the first week of August.

With our late arrival in SE Alaska this year, we thought we should make the most of the effort to get here and continuing cruising into August. After leaving Glacier Bay (and a storm), we traveled in pleasant conditions down Chatham Strait to Pavlof Harbor the first night (8/11) and then to Gut Bay the second night.

The next day (8/13) we fished east shores of Baranof Island where Marcia caught a couple silver (coho) salmon.  From there we continued to an anchorage at the north end of Keku Strait to position ourselves for transiting through Rocky Pass. Our goal was to go to the area on the SW corner of Prince of Wales Island (PoW) near Craig for more fishing.

Rocky Pass is a shallow and intricate route going from the Frederick Sound area to Sumner Pass that is best done at high slack. By August the bull kelp has grown during the long summer days to be dense as you travel Devil’s Elbow and it is unnerving hearing it bump along the sides of your hull as you see you depth sounder read only 20 feet of water. Later that same day, after a bouncy crossing of Sumner Passage, we entered El Capitan Passage for another shallow route before anchoring the night in Devilfish Bay on Kosciusko Island.

It was a short day to Kaguk Cove the following day (8/15) where we thought we’d wait out a forecasted front before continuing south to the area we wanted to fish. Besides fishing, our plan was to continue SE around Cape Chacon at the bottom of PoW Island and cross back over the border to Prince Rupert without diverting back to Ketchikan.

After reading the morning’s (8/16) forecast:

8/16 - A broad surface low in the Gulf with associated troughs and smaller scale lows circulating around it will continue to bring dreary and wet conditions to SEAK during the forecast period.

We changed our plan to a more conservative one. Instead we would head back north around the top of PoW Island, follow Sumner Passage to Zimovia Strait where we’d head down to Ernest Sound, back to Clarence Strait and down to Ketchikan. Having been beaten up by Clarence Strait on a couple of occasions, we do our best to avoid it in anything greater than 15 knot winds.

Anchorages along the way back to Ketchikan were Labouchere Bay, Santa Anna Inlet and Meyers Chuck. We did some prawning near Santa Anna and would have done more but the weather forecast urged us to get to Ketchikan before another storm.

8/18 - Most solutions now converge over a gale force low developing south of the Panhandle Wednesday night and near the southeast gulf Thursday.

We arrived in Ketchikan on 8/19, and prepared ourselves for starting the journey south as soon as the weather permitted.

8/20 - The forecast for the weekend has come into somewhat better consensus, featuring more rain for the panhandle.

On 8/21, between incoming fronts, a window of calm winds arrived and we headed down to Fillmore Inlet for a few days before crossing the border into Canada.

8/22 - The forecast for the upcoming week is one dominated by rain.

On 8/23, we cross Dixon Entrance and head to Prince Rupert in order to clear customs. Afterwards, we continue to Kumealon Island Cove for the night. From here it is a very quick (by trawler speed standards) southbound trip with stops at Bottleneck Inlet, Fury Cove, Growler Cove and Yeatman Bay, before running the length of the Strait of Georgia at night and arriving at a crowded Prevost Harbor on Stuart Island on 8/28 at 12:30 PM.

8/29 - The jury is still out on whether or not Southeast Alaska locations will wind up August with the wettest summer (June, July, August) on record. Some, like Ketchikan, seem more likely than others.

From here we’ll head to Anacortes for some preventative maintenance and a fuel up before returning to our homeport in Eagle Harbor.

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